GENEVA 2015 : Springtime, Showtime – PART II

Part II | After seeing earlier ideas and dreams, Volkswagen returns to the pragmatic with the presentation of the new GTE coupe. A slim profile, with a long roof line that is somehow elusive.  Is this also a hint of what we might expect from the new CC in 2016 ?  The Sport Coupe GTE is completely different from the conceptual design of VW sedans. With the addition of a tailgate, it moves closer to its Audi Sportback cousins (A5 and A7). The front is handled with an unusual and expressive aspect: you will notice the linear LED lights extending into a horizontal grill. The rear is designed with a rather muscular look.  This is new from VW and gets our attention. Apparently this style is a precursor for what will be a new Wolfsburg style direction. The cockpit is close to production level and includes a digital cluster like that on the high end Passat.  4 tactile screens are proposed, one centrally located for infotainment and air conditioning controls, one in the center console between the front seat passengers and two on the backs of the front seats. The trend is not only to take care of the driver, but also to provide as much distraction and enjoyment as possible for the rear seat passengers.
VW also revealed the Alltrack version of the Passat, a 4×4 explorer that uses the most powerful engines available in the new Passat.  Journalists chose this elegant, classic sedan as Car of the Year for 2015 from 7 finalists.  The interior, finished like the best VW production, also embraces the best technology of the mark. Pricing will determine if the new Passat can dominate the traditional middle class European market, but buyers may also see it as an alternative for more premium cars without losing quality and image.
Peugeot and Citroen did not show anything new during this show and for a good reason. It was necessary to leave pride of place for the introduction of the new mark: DS Automotive… On the booth as a first debut for the new brand, the DS5 raised its new grill complete with the new logo front and center.
A big surprise for us was the absence of any major news from BMW. The 1 Series does benefit from an important exterior restyling, with a finer front face similar to other BMW sedans.  The rear lights are now in two parts and less intrusive. In summary, the new Series 1 style will permit this entry to continue the fight at this end of the market.
BMW continues to penetrate the front wheel drive monospace market.  For some of us there was a big surprise, with the new Series 2 Grand Tourer, which offers either 7 seats or more space for 5 people and their luggage. BMW wants to cover the needs of every family.
OPEL has some problems on the European market and knows that it is under close observation from the now healthy General Motors headquarters in US. The flashy mark exposed a new entry-level vehicle (Less than 10,000€) the KARL. A small 5 door destined for the city or as a second car, the KARL is really in the Opel tradition with consensual shapes that should please as many people as possible. The interior is sober, but exudes quality with looking rich materials for this price range. Fit and finish is good and we think the KARL will help OPEL to rebuild the brand in Europe.
KIA pleased us by revealing the Sportspace Concept which is a precurser to its future D-class model. The concept was developed by a European styling department, based in Frankfort, Germany and managed by Frenchman Gregory Guillaume. The team, lead by Laurent Boulay, developed simple lines that are sober and elegant; there is no big flourish, no heavily sculptured approach to the design, just simplicity and elegance underlining the sporty yet functional style of the body. The long, long roof-line is underlined by an aluminum insert running from the base of the A-Pillar to the top of D-Pillar. A large integrated carbon surround panel emphasizes the exhaust outlets. The integrated grille and front lights stretch the apparent width of the car as the assembly wraps the front corners of the vehicle. It gives the car a larger look. So, the Sportspace name is really well suited to the vehicle… sporty and distinguished with an elegant simplicity that works perfectly.
To be continued…